Fake timeshare lawyers finally to be held accountable?
With so many people desperate to be free from their timeshare contracts for numerous reasons, the industry is filled with companies out there who can help. Unfortunately, while there are qualified, expert solicitors who can legally help their clients, the timeshare industry is also rife with fake timeshare lawyers, who despite their self-given title, are not actually lawyers at all.
For many years these companies have been operating within timeshare law and have been taking money from clients whom they are not really qualified to help. Thankfully, the tide is seeming to turn and fake lawyers in other industries are starting to be held accountable for their actions which gives hope for the future of timeshare law.
Fake lawyers to be held accountable
We will focus on a recent case from March 2019 – while this case doesn’t specifically relate to timeshare, we can take note from the ruling of the high court that they are beginning to press back against persons claiming falsely to be real, qualified lawyers.
This particular case involved the client, 70 year old Mr Wright, who sought legal help after an operation with the NHS in 2004 had left him with permanent life changing damage and disabilities. In 2008 he turned to the help of a company ran by George Rusz, who ran a litigation firm named Troy Lucas. The firm assured Mr Wright they had years of experience and allegedly claimed to be “as good as, if not better, than any solicitor or barrister”.
Troy Lucas provided Mr Wright a contract with headed paper implying that the firm comprised of one or more lawyers with legal qualifications; that the firm was authorised by the Ministry for Justice and that they were regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Troy Lucas initially valued the claim at £1.1 million and then just under £3 million (which were figures that were reached without any supporting documents).
The High Court ruled that George Rusz was professionally negligent. The court recognised that the firm was putting clients under a false pretence that they were dealing with qualified solicitors when in actual fact this was not the case. The Court said that the company must be held to the standards which they claimed to be able to deliver for their clients.
What was the company held accountable for?
The court ruled that the firm was guilty of advancing a claim which was heedless of the evidence; causing a series of adverse costs orders to be made against Mr Wright; failing to make or respond to offers appropriately; and failing to secure and retain the services of the appropriate expert. Their actions didn’t only fail to help Mr Wright but actually left him with a five-figure legal cost.
Mr Wright who will now have to look to recover the compensation he would likely have received from his original claim had he been properly represented in addition to the legal costs he has had to pay for. Mr Wright said:“If I had been able to access legal aid and enlist a professional solicitors firm I would have had my compensation many years ago, which would have improved my quality of life and that of my family who care for me.”
What does this mean for timeshare?
A human rights partner, Emma Jones represented Mr Wright in the professional negligence claim. She said:
“This is the first case on this issue since the ruling in Freeman v Marshall & Co . This ruling is important as it establishes that if individuals hold themselves out as competent legal advisers they will be held to the standards of a competent legal advisor and if they do not reach those standards they can be liable […] We hope this sends a warning shot out to any other businesses or individuals who are acting in this manner that they will be held to account for the risks and losses they expose their clients to through their incompetence”
It is clear that the Court is beginning to recognise these false companies for what they are – fraudulent. Many of our clients have also suffered at the hands of companies claiming to be real timeshare lawyers, or have been approached by companies claiming to be able to help them.
What are my next steps?
If you are worried about your timeshare contract and want to make sure you are working with trustworthy, qualified timeshare solicitors then get in touch with Athena Law.
Our team of dedicated, expert timeshare solicitors will work closely with you to carefully consider your case and advise you on your legal rights. We have years of experience in this industry and many success stories for clients who have been in your position, and we may be able to help you too.
Call 0161 839 8847 today
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We look forward to hearing from you soon.